Ignite MNC – Interview – Dr Gregory Smith – Out of the Forest

In this our third interview of speakers and presenters that will be attending Ignite MNC 2018 we feature Dr Gregory Smith.

Completely disillusioned with a world he couldn’t find peace with, he walked into a Northern NSW rain forest which heralded his reclusive existence for the next ten years.

How he exited the forest, on the brink of death and still haunted by personal demons, to eventually gain a PhD, become a university lecturer in the Arts & Social Science sector at Southern Cross University and an ambassador for Australia’s ‘forgotten children’ is a personal testament to ‘never giving up’.

On 7 November Dr Gregory Smith will be speaking at Ignite MNC in Bellingen.

Ignite MNC will bring together creators, thinkers and innovators from the Mid North Coast region and beyond.

Don’t forget to grab your ticket before they are sold out, as they are selling fast – follow the link below.

10 Questions with Dr Gregory Smith

Where did you grow up?

A difficult question to answer. The concept of ‘growing up’ is confusing to me. Do you mean where did I age? Where did I learn the skills I would need later in life? I was born in Tamworth and remained there until 10 years of age. If the meaning is – when did I mature enough to participate in society? Then not until I was 45 years old.

Given the choice between living in the city or country which would you choose and why?

There are many good things to explore and do in the cities. Dining, cinema, the Arts to touch on a small sample. I choose to live remotely because I like the sound of the planet turning. This is something which cannot be heard in the larger towns or cities. The sounds of the city can be quite heavy and crushing.  They create pressure in being.

Describe your area of expertise?

This one is easy – survival. Of all my qualifications, survival is the most dominant. Without it, the others would not be…

What is the greatest hurdle you have had to overcome in your career and how did you do it?

Fear of failure, fear of being found out to be a fraud. These were constant companions for many years during my studies. I found I had to keep doing what I needed to do and introduce some humour into my days. Learning to have a giggle at myself and others filled in the spaces that feelings of inadequacy found it difficult to poke through into my days.

If you could solve one problem or issue what would it be?

Transform our social attitudes from those of greed and the seemingly insatiable need to consumerism contributing to a disposable society into a culture of quality and pride in its produce.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take the time to get to know who you are. It is through understanding of self that acceptance of others can begin.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

That person who is homeless, the one no one knows. It is this person who has the lived experience and insight into hardship that few of us understand.

The best advice you have being given during your life?

The best advice I received was from the forest. It took ten years of listening and just when I was ready to turn it all in, I was convinced (by apparitions, ancestors and aliens that at that stage were visiting me by the fire) that by dying alone in the forest my daughter and sisters would not get closure. That advice (in my very fragile mental and physical state) was crucial for me, a turning point between what would have been imminent death or my life as it is today.

What are you looking forward to most about attending Ignite MNC at Bellingen?

Ignite MNC is about innovation and transformation. One of the things in life I am very cognisant of is how exciting these two concepts can be. Sometimes it is necessary for one to explore the changes in oneself before they can be paralleled into the lived world. I have had to do this.  I have had to re-invent and transform myself. Because of this I know how exciting the dreaming of a new hope or idea can be. It can then become ‘about the journey’. Seeing the things that can be done rather than the things that cannot. 

What are your plans for the next year?

The same as last year and that which I do best – Survive and allow life to lead me in the direction it chooses. One thing I have a clear understanding of today is – if I try to interfere with life, it usually gets messy. Allow it to happen, take the opportunities as they come.


The Ignite MNC Symposium is a business and community event designed to bring together people who work, run businesses and live in the Mid North Coast. The event is designed to inspire new thinking, vibrant conversations and to form collaborative partnerships. – aka; if you want to do break the mould – to do something different – to find a tribe to support you, to make the Mid North Coast an innovative, inspiring and vibrant place to live and work… For access to further information and tickets visit 





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